National HIV/AIDS Strategy: What's Next?

The President made history by introducing the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Now what?

This summer, President Obama made history by launching the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Its goal: to significantly decrease annual HIV infections, increase the proportion of HIV-positive people in care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities by 2015.

At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we know firsthand this is tough work. It will require a herculean effort from policy leaders, federal agencies, civil society, and the private sector. As a community, it is our job to continue to hold our elected officials accountable for supporting and implementing this ambitious strategy. It also requires that we challenge ourselves to try new things and change our approach to fighting this disease. Status quo is no longer an option.

The next big milestone for the strategy comes on December 9—the deadline for federal agencies to submit operational plans on how they will implement the President’s strategy. In anticipation of this important deadline, San Francisco AIDS Foundation worked with leaders from around the country to develop detailed recommendations for consideration by federal officials on how to operationalize the strategy across the federal government. Recommendations fall into three categories:

I. Allocating Financial Resource

In order to achieve the goals established by the NHAS, operational plans must address the issue of funding, including clear articulation of needed resources, allocation and prioritization of available funds, and mechanisms to regularly monitor and publicly report on the outcome of the nation’s HIV/AIDS investments. Without serious efforts to tackle thorny issues of funding, the strategy cannot succeed.

II. Prioritizing High-Impact Activities

By committing to a limited set of high-yield activities that will be implemented immediately and focused on populations most affected by HIV, operational plans can establish unequivocally the federal government’s intentions to accomplish NHAS goals. Agency plans must reflect ambitious and rapid pursuit of NHAS targets.

III. Managing for Outcomes

Success of the strategy depends on improved management of the domestic HIV/AIDS effort. Rigorous management and monitoring of implementation among various governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders—with attention to efficient use of resources, development of high-yield activities, decreased duplication, and greater coordination and collaboration—must be prioritized to achieve success.

This detailed set of recommendations was delivered on September 27, 2010, to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is overseeing the NHAS implementation. It was developed by a group of HIV/AIDS leaders who in 2007 kick-started the grassroots movement that became the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy, which ultimately led to the development of the plan. We are proud to count our very own Dr. Judy Auerbach, Vice President of Research & Evaluation, among this founding group.

The strategy is a significant step forward in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. America has never before had a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy designed to strengthen coordination and accountability to achieve clearly defined objectives. But to accomplish its worthy goals, federal officials must rapidly pursue full implementation of the plan. Slow and incremental changes in programming and policy will not achieve NHAS targets. In fact, failure to produce bold, measurable steps risks rendering the strategy moot.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation is committed to continuing its leadership in focusing attention on funding and implementing the national strategy and monitoring the progress of its operationalization. Part of this commitment includes ongoing community advocacy and updates to people like you who help make our work possible. To receive future updates on our NHAS work directly in your email inbox, subscribe to our e-newsletter, “Status.” 

To see the PDF of the complete set of recommendations provided to the Obama administration, click here.

For the very latest developments on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, visit



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